We’ve heard that term thrown around a lot lately. Everything from hair, to flavorings in your food and drink, to toilet paper has been given the “natural” label. In some cases, with a bit of research, you’ll find that the word natural is just a thinly disguised term for fewer chemicals than you wanted to deal with in the first place. So this begs the question, then, what exactly is natural gas? How does it get to your home?
What is Natural Gas?
Let’s start with the first question, what is natural gas? Natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration, is a naturally occurring emission that primarily consists of methane. It is the product of a process millions of years in the making, starting when matter such as ancient plant and animal remains began to decompose and were covered by rock formations that slowly formed on top of them. These rock formations were then covered by sand and silt. The process repeated itself over and over again: decomposition, rock formations, sand and silt, repeat. Pressure and heat then changed some of this organic material into oil (petroleum) and some into natural gas. Natural gas can also occur in spacious cracks or tiny pores.
How Do We Get Natural Gas?
So how does natural gas get to your house? Miles and miles of pipes, of course! But more specifically, it starts with geologists who scout out the perfect landscapes for drilling based on seismic surveys of both water and land. When they find the perfect spot, an experimental well is dug to test the viability of the site. If the site is viable, they dig further in the experimental well until they reach the rock formations. According to the EIA, “the rock formation is fractured by forcing water, chemicals, and sand down a well. This releases the natural gas from the rock, and the natural gas flows up the well to the surface.” Multiple wells may also be dug. From there, the natural gas that is extracted is then known as a wet natural gas. This is due to the fact that sometimes the gas may include liquid hydrocarbons and non-hydrocarbon gases. Next, any other byproduct gases are separated, usually on the same site, and we are left with the finished product. The fully-processed natural gas is called dry or consumer-grade natural gas. This is the natural gas that is sent to underground storage fields or distribution companies and then out to power your homes or businesses.
Is All of Our Natural Gas From the US?
For the most part, all of the gas supplied to and consumed by the United States is homegrown. However, some natural gas is imported from Canada and Mexico through pipelines. A small amount is also imported as liquified natural gas.
Natural gas is an important part of our everyday lives. It can be used to heat homes and water, generate electric power, and much more. Also, as we look to reduce our carbon footprint across the globe, more car manufacturers are building vehicles that can use natural gas as fuel. For more info about our natural gas rates and prices, please visit our Rates page.